Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring has sprung!

The weather has been gorgeous here lately (despite the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland that hovered somewhere overhead) so we've been taking full advantage of that and "working" outside for a while every day. It is in the mid 30s in the morning and mid 50s to low 60s in the afternoon, but there is plenty of sunshine, so we will take it!

Frédéric made a square in the garden for the boys to "work" in - Benjamin is as yet undecided on whether to plant something there or just build dirt castles. He's been telling us where to plant the mangos and bananas... I guess we have a few more gardening lessons to work on, like the ones dealing with climate.

Noah does NOT like being told to not destroy Benjamin's dirt castles. Here he is telling me he is "Not Happy!" complete with arms folded and scowl.

And Benjamin had a similar scowl after a run-in with a bee -- something else it turns out he is afraid of. He wasn't stung, he just saw it flying a little too close to him. The list of what Benjamin is scared of these days is getting longer by the minute. Besides spiders and bees, the list also includes dust hanging from the ceiling, the dark, an area under his bed, and the clock on his wall (until I removed it, and then he wasn't scared of it anymore and wanted it back), and some other as yet unidentified items that also cause floods of tears, most especially at bedtime.

One little gardener hard at work.

And a few more pictures of our pretty real Dutch tulips and the cute curly-haired model (the cute straight-haired model had already gone to seek refuge from the bee inside the house).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Sentinels

Tiny spiders are the things of a 4-year-old's nightmares, it seems.

Benjamin woke up screaming after a nightmare about a spider the other morning around 4:30 am, just when Frédéric was leaving for work. He said he didn’t want to be alone in his room, so Frédéric unceremoniously dumped him in our bed and left for work, leaving me to handle it. Benjamin kept tossing and turning and talking and thinking up things that bothered him (he wanted the fan on, he wanted the door closed so the spiders couldn’t get in, he had to go to the bathroom). I finally told him he had to either quit it and go to sleep or go back to his own bed. He chose his own bed and we both managed to get a little bit more sleep before we had to get up for the day.

The next night, Benjamin was crying at bedtime because he was afraid of the spider. (We had asked him how big the spider was in his dream and he showed us, with his finger and thumb about a quarter of an inch apart.) I told him there were no spiders in his room, I offered to have Frédéric check his room for them just to be sure, and finally I told him that spiders were really scared of one of his stuffed bears. There were no spiders in the house, but even if they DID get in, if they saw this bear, they would run away screaming. So we put the bear on the landing outside his door and closed the door (so that even if they spiders DID make it past the bears, they wouldn't go into his room; we were ready for every eventuality). (I'm realizing too late that child psychology would have been a more useful major for me than French.)

Now every time he goes to bed he goes through the whole rigmarole of telling me how the spiders are so scared of the bear, and they scream when they see it, and run away down the stairs and back outside.

Last night I came upstairs to find this.

I guess he figured if the spiders were scared of one bear, they were even more scared of two of them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Garden Tour

Spring is coming, and that means flowers! Yes, even our poorly maintained garden has a few flowers.
It also has lots of these suckers - and this is by far the largest one I've ever seen in our yard.

The wall that needs some pruning.

The little flowers all over our retaining wall/hill that draw bees like crazy.

Tulips from Holland. We brought these back after our trip to Amsterdam in 2006, and they have been coming up ever since.

Our little sumac is budding! Another 20 years and it should be as big as the one that fell down last winter.

The raspberry bush has spread out a bit, in a few years maybe we'll have enough to do something with.

The chives we abandoned to the snails are back in full force. I guess the slug pellets did some good last year!

And you'll all be happy to know that our stinging nettle vine is also thriving.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

4 Sheds Minus 1 = Still Too Many

But we are making progress! And by we, I mean Frédéric is making progress. He and his friend took down one of the four sheds in the back yard on Friday. They started with the easiest-to-dismantle one, made of sheets of corrugated metal and metal rods.

This frees up a large space up on the hill for the vegetable garden. It's a spot that gets sun most of the day, and the kids don't play up there, so it should be perfect.

Perfect once we move the branches and compost and metal out of the way, that is. Frédéric went a little crazy cutting back the hedges back there, so now we have a great view of the front of our neighbors' house from our back patio. Hopefully the hedges will grow back a little bit or we can figure out what we'd like to use instead to block the view. So one shed down, only 2 more to go!

I let Benjamin skip his nap so he could work outside for a while too, but he got tired so he came inside to rest and read. (Those are the Crowe & Lundy genes coming out; no one in Frédéric's family cares much for reading.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Transportation is in their blood

Noah is the Thomas the Tank Engine fan, but with a great-grandfather who worked for Citroën, a grandfather and an uncle who worked/work for the RATP (Parisian metro & bus company), and a father who works for Air France, transportation is in their blood. In fact, the SNCF (French train company) is the only one not represented in the family at the moment, so perhaps they have found their calling.

Benjamin built this track, complete with a "big, big bridge" all him by himself (and rebuilt it a few times after the tornado of destruction otherwise known as Noah came through).

They are *almost* at ages where they can play together... at the moment this translates into Benjamin bossing Noah around and telling him how to play, and Noah completely ignoring him and/or destroying his block castles or train tracks.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter!

No Easter egg hunt this year since it was all wet and rainy outside. But at least we have progressed from Easter flowerpots this year, thanks to my mom, who brought baskets, Easter grass and eggs the last time she came.

And we were treated to a beautiful Easter rainbow!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No More Uglybushes!

And there was great rejoicing! It was nice and sunny out today, and after naptime Frédéric and the boys went out and removed the uglybushes from in front of the house! This is how it was when we moved in:

All the boys hard at work.

One big uglybush gone! The little uglybush was also removed, and the stinging nettle vine that grew under and around it, now we can see our flowers.

I think we will dig up the tulips after this year, and make rectangular flower beds along the front of the house. Our neighbors all have beautiful flower gardens, so we feel a little like the poor relative! Any suggestions for what to plant there?